The Age of Volatile Belief

The age of volatile belief is intimately linked with the impact of the technetronic revolution on existing ideologies and outlooks on life. What man thinks is closely related to what man experiences. The relationship between the two is not causal but interacting: experience affects thought, and thought conditions the interpretation of experience.

Today the dominant pattern seems increasingly to be that of highly individualistic, unstructured, changing perspectives. Institutionalized beliefs, the result of the merger of ideas and institutions, no longer appear to many as vital and relevant, while the skepticism that has contributed so heavily to the undermining of institutionalized beliefs now clashes with the new emphasis on passion and involvement. The result for many is an era of fads, of rapidly shifting beliefs, with emotions providing for some the unifying cement previously supplied by institutions and with the faded revolutionary slogans of the past providing the needed inspiration for facing an altogether different future.

Zbigniew Brzezinski – Between Two Ages. America’s Role in the Technetronic Era

How to Win Friends?

Fundamental Techniques In Handling People:

  1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Six Ways To Make People Like You:

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
  6. Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.

Win People To Your Way Of Thinking:

  1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
  3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  4. Begin in a friendly way.
  5. Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
  6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
  7. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
  8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
  10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
  11. Dramatize your ideas.
  12. Throw down a challenge.

How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment:

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
  2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
  3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
  4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  5. Let the other person save face.
  6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.
  7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
  9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

Dale Carnegie – How To Win Friends And Influence People

Starting Point

For a common man, the independent existence of the world outside the mind, and thus the existence of the glowing sun, hard ground, cold water and the like, is beyond the slightest doubt; he holds this as the unshakable truth. It is enough, however, only to think for a while, to see that there is something even more certain, namely, that there is my own consciousness, because if it were not so, I would know nothing about the material world. Enough is to pronounce this sentence to be immediately convinced that my own consciousness can be the only appropriate starting point for any philosophical speculation. It is amazing that so many centuries had passed before people managed to understand it. Only Descartes with his famous cogito, ergo sum considered the consciousness as the starting point.

Consider the first manifestation of our consciousness. The first of its content can be, of course, nothing but a feeling of a different kind: the feeling of light, sound, pain, pleasure, etc. These feelings come to consciousness, go out of it and change without our complicity. They are the only content of our mind; the content that presents itself to us not as something created by the consciousness, but as something imposed.

The consciousness then assumes that there is an external object, the presence of which is necessary to induce feelings. But this assumption of the existence of external objects, which apparently takes place without any consideration and thought, is actually a logical conclusion, without which we would never have come to know the outside world.

It is obvious therefore, based on the above analysis, that the material world can not be regarded as a collection of some real beings, independent of our mind, which could exist even when the mind did not think or imagine anything.

Adolf Eugen Fick – Die Welt als Vorstellung. Akademischer Vortrag

The Power of Words

The power of words is bound up with the images they evoke, and is quite independent of their real significance. Words whose sense is the most ill-defined are sometimes those that possess the most influence. Such, for example, are the terms democracy, equality, liberty, &c., whose meaning is so vague that bulky volumes do not suffice to precisely fix it. Yet it is certain that a truly magical power is attached to those short syllables, as if they contained the solution of all problems. They synthesise the most diverse unconscious aspirations and the hope of their realisation.

Reason and arguments are incapable of combatting certain words and formulas. They are uttered with solemnity in the presence of crowds, and as soon as they have been pronounced an expression of respect is visible on every countenance, and all heads are bowed. By many they are considered as natural forces, as supernatural powers. They evoke grandiose and vague images in men’s minds, but this very vagueness that wraps them in obscurity augments their mysterious power. They are the mysterious divinities hidden behind the tabernacle, which the devout only approach in fear and trembling.

It was by invoking liberty and fraternity — words very popular at the time — that the Jacobins were able to install a despotism worthy of Dahomey, a tribunal similar to that of the Inquisition, and to accomplish human hecatombs akin to those of ancient Mexico.

One of the most essential functions of statesmen consists, then, in baptizing with popular or, at any rate, indifferent words things the crowd cannot endure under their old names. The power of words is so great that it suffices to designate in well-chosen terms the most odious things to make them acceptable to crowds.

Gustave Le Bon – The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind

My Problem Child

The problem of reality is and has been from time immemorial a central concern of philosophy. It is, however, a fundamental distinction, whether one approaches the problem of reality rationally, with the logical methods of philosophy, or if one obtrudes upon this problem emotionally, through an existential experience.

The first planned experiment was therefore so deeply moving and alarming, because everyday reality and the ego experiencing it, which I had until then considered to be the only reality, dissolved, and an unfamiliar ego experienced another, unfamiliar reality. The problem concerning the innermost self also appeared, which, itself unmoved, was able to record these external and internal transformations. Reality is inconceivable without an experiencing subject, without an ego. It is the product of the exterior world, of the sender and of a receiver, an ego in whose deepest self the emanations of the exterior world, registered by the antennae of the sense organs, become conscious. If one of the two is lacking, no reality happens, no radio music plays, the picture screen remains blank.

The entry of another reality may be explained by the fact that the brain, the seat of the receiver, becomes biochemically altered. The receiver is thereby tuned into another wavelength than that corresponding to normal, everyday reality. Since the endless variety and diversity of the universe correspond to infinitely many different wavelengths, depending on the adjustment of the receiver, many different realities, including the respective ego, can become conscious. This can be perceived as a blessed, or as a demonic transformation imbued with terror, proceeding to a loss of the trusted ego. In an auspicious case, the new ego feels blissfully united with the objects of the outer world and consequently also with its fellow beings.

This experience of deep oneness with the exterior world can even intensify to a feeling of the self being one with the universe. This condition, which under favorable conditions can be evoked, is analogous to spontaneous religious enlightenment, with the unio mystica. In both conditions, which often last only for a timeless moment, a reality is experienced that exposes a gleam of the transcendental reality, in which universe and self, sender and receiver, are one.

(…)

A concept of reality that separates self and the world has decisively determined the evolutionary course of European intellectual history. Experience of the world as matter, as object, to which man stands opposed, has produced modern natural science and technology—creations of the Western mind that have changed the world. With their help human beings have subdued the world. Ecclesiastical Christianity, determined by the duality of creator and creation, has, however, with its nature-alienated religiosity largely obliterated the Eleusinian-Dionysian legacy of antiquity. In the Christian sphere of belief, only special blessed men have attested to a timeless, comforting reality, experienced in a spontaneous vision, an experience to which in antiquity the elite of innumerable generations had access through the initiation at Eleusis.

As a path to the perception of a deeper, comprehensive reality, in which the experiencing individual is also sheltered, meditation, in its different forms, occupies a prominent place today. The essential difference between meditation and prayer in the usual sense, which is based upon the duality of creator nad creation, is that meditation aspires to the abolishment of the I-you-barrier by a fusing of object and subject, of sender and receiver, of objective reality and self. Objective reality, the world view produced by the spirit of scientific inquiry, is the myth of our time.

Albert Hoffman – My Problem Child